Ear We Go: More TikTok Bad Earwax Advice To Ignore

Ear wax is a naturally occurring substance and is vital for maintaining your ear health, as it helps capture debris that might otherwise get inside your ear and cause an infection or blockage. But sometimes excess wax can be a problem in itself.

The question then is what you should do about it. The obvious solution might be to see a specialist and have it treated through means such as microsuction, but, as ever, there are lots of online influencers out there with their homespun ‘life hacks’ who will tell you they have a better way.

When not telling you Vitamin C wards off Covid better than the vaccination or that a few mashed vegetables put through a blender can clear up skin problems, they will turn their attention to ear wax. Not only can their advice often be ineffective, but sometimes downright dangerous.

The latest instance has been highlighted by CBS News in the US. It has picked up on the new TikToker trend of ‘ear cleaning’.

No, this is not a repeat of the advice you were given as a child to “wash behind your ears” before school. Instead, it is the idea that involves scraping your ears clean of wax.

Therein lies the problem. As stated above, while excess wax can be an issue, the substance is there for a reason, which is to protect your ears. Remove it all and you will be an open goal for every big, bit of dust or anything else that can get in.

Discussing this online trend, Dr. Brian Lamb from Allegheny Health Network said: “It makes us cringe, but you don’t realise, your ear is a very delicate organ.”

Explaining that ears are meant to be self-cleaning and that ear wax has a purpose, he added: “It helps capture things that are flying in there that aren’t supposed to be there from dusts to even as gross as it sounds, bugs.” 

Not only is this a problem, but the home-made tools used to scrape the inside of the ear can also do damage in some very sensitive spots, with potential for long-term harm.

“If you’re scraping incorrectly you can actually cut the skin which can then lead to bacterial infections,” Dr Lamb warned, concluding. “You could, in the worst-case scenario, actually puncture your drum.”

Of course, it is not just on TikTok that social media viewers can see earwax being removed. YouTube does it too. But in the latter case, you may be more likely to see something different from an influencer telling you ‘how to do it yourself’; instead you can see lots of videos of the procedure being done by professionals, including microsuction.

Some people get a strange kick out of watching such videos, in the same way, many enjoy YouTube footage of things like pimples being popped and blackheads squeezed out.

The take-home message you should get from such videos is that when earwax gets bad, you should get help from the professionals. That’s how it should be. Whatever you do, never get your advice on earwax (or any medical matter) from TikTok.

How The Freezing Wintery Weather Can Harm Your Ears

News that parts of the UK have just experienced their coldest November night in 13 years will have got a lot of people thinking about what sort of winter lies ahead. For all the talk of 2023 being the world’s hottest year on record, the next few months might bring something very different in Britain.

There may also be many mild spells to come, of course, but the chances are that for at least some of the time, the weather will be at or close to freezing, which means all but the most brave, robust, or unwise will wrap up warm when venturing out.

While some may be worried about the general effects of the cold or the risks of slips and trips, it is worth thinking about your ears, as there are various ways in which very cold weather can affect your audio health.

A 2019 article by Deaf Unity highlighted many of these, noting how everything from the function of hearing aids to your level of ear wax can be affected by cold weather.

In the case of earwax, it is important to note that this is produced by your ears for their own protection against infection and foreign bodies. There is also an insulating aspect to the substance, as it helps protect the inner ear from excessive cold. That is why a plunging temperature will prompt your ears to generate more of it.

For that reason, it is worth getting checked out if you feel there is a build-up of wax over the winter. You won’t be imagining it and if you need earwax removal, it is wise to seek that as soon as you can to avoid having unnecessary hearing issues.

The cold can also affect your hearing in other ways too. For instance, excess cold can restrict the blood flow to your ears, making them more prone to infections, while cold and moisture can impede the function of hearing aids.

While you should certainly make sure you get any ear problems treated and have your hearing aids repaired or replaced if they are not working due to cold weather damage, prevention is always better than cure.

That means wrapping up warm with things like a woolly hat and earmuffs to specifically keep your ears warm and dry, while other warm clothing will help maintain your general body temperature.

Other things you can do include eating healthily and exercising well, as these can ensure you have good circulation and thus reduce the risks of ear infection.

People’s attitudes to the cold weather do vary, of course; while some will stay indoors and keep warm, others like to get outside and enjoy the scenery and even take part in winter sports. Those who do, however, should be aware of the risks of excessive ear exposure to cold weather.

Whatever your approach to the season, you mustn’t wait until spring to ensure your ears are in good health. If wax is a problem, you will be wise to brave the cold weather for a while to go and see a clinician to get it removed.

Blocked Ears: What Are The Common Causes Earwax Build-up?

Some people suffer from regular build-ups of earwax, which can result in not being able to hear as clearly as they otherwise would. 

Although this can be easily rectified by booking an appointment for microsuction earwax removal, those who suffer might be interested to find out why their ears regularly become blocked in the first place. 

There are many reasons why your body might produce earwax faster than it can remove it or block more easily than others. Here are just a few:

 

Narrow ear canal

Some people are born with narrow ear canals, which is the tube that goes between the opening of the ear and the eardrum. 

Alternatively, they might have too much hair in their ear canals, which means it is prone to blocking. 

 

Injuries

Some injuries result in the body producing too much earwax that it cannot get rid of, or they might cause narrowing of the ear canal.

For the former, it is difficult to clear the earwax at a fast enough rate, while the latter means it is easier for the canal to block. 

 

Eczema

Eczema around the scalp or ear often also impacts ear blockages, causing wax to build-up more quickly. 

 

Inflammation

People with otitis externa, otherwise known as ‘swimmer’s ear’, also suffer from earwax blockages, as it causes inflammation of the external ear canal. 

It occurs due to repeated exposure to water, which is how it got its nickname. Regularly getting water in the ear can cause people to scratch, while the moisture makes for good conditions for bacterial growth. 

 

Putting things in the ear

Another cause of earwax build-up is frequently putting things in the ear, such as ear plugs or cotton buds. This pushes the wax further into the ear canal, making it harder to escape and blocking up the area.

What does Ear Wax Do?

It’s no secret, we all have ear wax. It’s a perfectly normal substance that’s created by our body and it’s always going to be around. What many don’t understand, however, is the purpose of ear wax, and how important its role actually is.

Ear wax assists in the removal of unwanted debris from the ear. Naturally, throughout our lives, the ear canal will fill with unwanted dirt and hair and the ear wax’s job is to dispose of this. Generally speaking, wax does a great job at this, and you’ll never really notice it whilst it’s at work. Unwanted debris in the ear canal will be taken care of automatically and can be encouraged by little things such as movement from the bottom jaw.

Ear wax also makes for a fantastic protective barrier for the eardrum, which is an extremely important and sensitive part of the human body. Damaging the eardrum can lead to sensorineural hearing loss, which is often not surgically treatable. In short, it’s important to keep our eardrums safe, and ear wax helps us to do this.

On top of all of this, ear wax contains antibacterial properties, which help keep the ear clean and protect it from infection.

We wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s a man’s best friend though. Ear wax is amazing in moderation, but sometimes it can build up excessively – to a point where it’s causing what’s known as an ‘impaction’.

When an impaction happens, you may find that the ear becomes irritated and uncomfortable. It may also be harder to hear and understand people in social situations. When this happens, excess ear wax needs to be removed. A method recommended by professionals is ‘Microsuction’; the removal of excess wax from the ear canal.

Otec Hearing offer Microsuction ear wax removal in the Lincoln & Huddersfield areas. For more information, head over to our Microsuction page, or give us a call on 01522 305400.